THE Pride March after party at St Kilda’s Catani Gardens in Melbourne has been saved thanks to an 11th-hour intervention by local tourism and business groups following a community outcry at its initial cancellation.

Pride March Victoria president Matt Renwick announced last week that after party wouldn’t be going ahead for financial reasons, with the organisation struggling to recover from a significant loss in 2012 when the event was washed out.

Following the cancellation, the St Kilda Tourism Association, along with the Fitzroy Street Business Association and the Port Phillip Council stepped in to offer financial and in-kind support to allow the party to go ahead at Catani Gardens.

“As of last Friday we still had a five and a half thousand dollar debt from the 2012 washout, that was a debt over the traffic management down Fitzroy St, and last Friday (Port Phillip) Council kindly waived that remaining debt,” Renwick told the Star Observer.

The local organisations have also agreed to take on the risk for the event and will donate any profits back to Pride March Victoria.

“It’s still a Pride March event if you like, it’s just that they’ve basically put together all their skill sets, their connections with key suppliers, and they’re able to deliver an event for a lot less money,” Renwick said.

“The past model that we were operating under was not sustainable to continue holding that event.”

Renwick had an expectation the local associations would continue to provide similar support beyond 2014 in order to keep Pride in St Kilda, but future events will be managed by Pride March Victoria rather than the associations.

Fitzroy Street Business Association president Jonathan Sherren told the Star Observer the organisation was adamant about supporting the event once they learned the Catani Gardens party was initially cancelled.

“We approached the St Kilda Tourism Association and explained to them how important this march is not only to the street but to the community and to the City of Port Phillip,” Sherren said.

“It’s such an important event to us. We want to make sure the longevity of it continues, and we’ve offered our help and support in any way we can… We want to demonstrate how we know this event can be a success monetary-wise.”

Although the funding arrangement between Pride March Victoria and the Port Phillip Council ends after this year’s march, the arrangements arising out of this year’s event are likely to cement the future of the march in St Kilda, despite divided community opinion over the location.

In response, Renwick said: “All 19 of the pride marches that have been run have been within the City of Port Phillip. So there’s huge implications in terms of moving the event. That’s not to say it might not happen in the future, but at this point in time we’re not interested in going down any particular route.”

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